September 12, 2021

Sunday Worship, Celebration of Community

This service took place in-person, outside.
CMCL’s Celebration of Community Service pre Covid
Prelude— How Great Thou Art, VT #436 (In person Sung by Rhea Miller & Anika Krebs)
23 – A Girl Named Tom, Music by Chris Liechty, lyrics adapted from the 23rd Psalm

Welcome and Call to Worship—
Good morning! And welcome here – in person and on Zoom and if you’re using the email order of worship – as we gather together before God, the Creator, on this lovely September morning.

If you are participating via this email order of service, feel free to email me at leslie@communitymennonite.org with joys or prayer requests that you’d like to be passed on to everyone during Sharing Time or in the Sharing Email sent out after the service.

Today is our annual celebration of being a Body of Christ in this place and time – a covenant people gathered around ten core values of faith and life.

We will read through these core values together in unison – one at a time. Then we’ll reflect on each one through a song, poem or sharing by a CMCLer.

We also have a large glass basin filled with water here in front. You received a little stone when you came in this morning. After we’ve reflected on our core values, you will be invited to come forward and drop your pebble in this water – to symbolize you being part of this community and to be reminded of the ripples created by your presence here. For those of you participating by Zoom or through email, I have additional pebbles here that I will drop in to symbolize and honor you as part of this community, as well.

So let us begin by reading the first core value.

We are KNOWN AND LOVED BY GOD– This is the center of our common faith. We speak this reality to each other and we strive to model this love in our world.

Gathering Song— God Lights a Lamp, VT #299

We are CALLED TO FOLLOW JESUS– The stories of Jesus orient our worship. Turning toward Jesus “God-with-us” at our center is more important than defining the outer edges. Our participation in the wider Mennonite church and stream of Anabaptist theology informs this call. We respect and learn from people of religious traditions beyond Christianity.

Reflection —Leslie Homer-Cattell
A couple of weeks ago, Dave and I traveled to Colorado for our nephew’s wedding. It was held just outside Vail in a remote and breathtakingly beautiful spot by a lake. A family of moose delighted us by taking a swim right after the ceremony!

As we soon learned, Vail itself is a pretty pricey vacation spot with condos and lodges nestled in perfect proximity to the mountains (owned by investors). After a day of hiking or rafting or skiing, visitors dress up to dine at gourmet restaurants and shop at high-end retail stores. 

Other than those who cook and serve and clean, Vail is filled with people of privilege. This was clear when riding a shuttle between our rented condo and one of the wedding venues. Two couples were talking about how one of their rooms wasn’t exactly perfect when they arrived – they didn’t have enough towels or something like that. The staff had apologized and made it right; but these folks felt the need to ask for something to make up for their “inconvenience”. Gleefully, they bragged to their friends that the staff agreed to give them free breakfasts during their stay.

Listening, I couldn’t help but think, “None of the very privileged people being driven around on this shuttle need free breakfasts – not you folks and not us either.” The people who need free breakfasts that I know about are the folks that CMCLers take turns serving once a month here in Lancaster. It was the have-nots who drew Jesus’ attention and compassion; as Jesus’ followers, we’re called to compassionately respond to those in need, too.  

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how well Jesus’ life and teachings hold up in 2021. They are very relevant to our lives today. In terms of finding ways to resist all that is wrong in our world and to live lives of joy and loving purpose instead – Jesus’ wisdom and example just hold up. 

Grappling with growing economic, educational, housing, and medical care access inequities in our country and around the world (mostly falling along lines of skin color), I need a community of other Jesus followers to remind me of his words from Matthew 25:35-36: “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 

Faced with the harsh political divisions in our country – including in our own families, I need to be challenged by Jesus’ hard (and inconvenient!) teaching from Matthew 5:34: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

As Palmer Becker writes inAnabaptist Essentials: Ten Signs of a Unique Christian Faith, Jesus is the center of our faith. We seek “to follow Jesus in daily life, interpret the Scriptures through the eyes of Jesus, and see Jesus as our final authority.” (11) 

As we read in Isaiah 9:6:For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

We are NOURISHED THROUGH WORSHIP– We celebrate music and the arts as vital parts of our spiritual practice. We value worship that honors our wrestling, our broken places and our raw edges. Our worship brings wholeness and centeredness to fragmented lives.Dance—Germag Aghavni (White Dove) by Khatchadour Avedikian, performed by CMCLer Zita Angelo during in-person service.We are NOURISHED THROUGH RELATIONSHIPS– We are present to each other in mutual care, not for fixing or problem-solving, but for helping one another remember or discover the wholeness and holiness that God intends for us.        Children’s Gathering Song—Come and See,  Sung by CMCL on Jan 26, 2020

Children’s Time—Sue Stoesz(In-Person Only)We are NOURISHED THROUGH THE BIBLICAL STORY– We are drawn to stories of Jesus reaching out to the marginal, listening and healing as he moves among them. We strive to understand together what the Bible means for our lives in this time and place.Reflection —Ron Vogt
It has always been very enriching to me to be able to reflect on my work as a therapist and psychologist using the lens of scripture and the biblical narrative.  I remember how astounded I was when a teacher opened up the story of the Israelites and the golden calf from a psychological perspective. While Moses was away receiving the 10 Commandments, they melted down the gold they took from Egypt and made a golden calf.  Moses came down and made them grind down the gold into dust, threw it in the river and told the people to drink from it. The gold, psychodynamically represents Israel’s worth and beauty to God. They were a nothing in Egypt, slaves, seen on the level as cattle to the Egyptians, and God rescued them and led them through the Red Sea (which has all the symbolism of a birth canal), giving them birth, life, value in their own right.  And they couldn’t hold it. It’s hard to hold our gold, our value, our truth. It makes us anxious, it makes others anxious. We want to expel it. But Moses as God representative, says No, let’s not disown our value and our truth.  It belongs in you.  But it’s not easy to reclaim and hold onto one’s value and truth, and the lovely symbol of breaking it down into small, small pieces so we can make sense of it and make it accessible and putting it into something like water and slowly drinking it to make it little by little part of ourselves. So that really is possible for people.  That’s God’s job with Israel and with me and with you.  And on a good day I get to be part of that biblical narrative or finding healing and a home for the parts of myself and my clients that have been exiled and shamed and hurt and finding the gold there. 

I also remember being in therapy myself trying to reclaim myself and seeing how lost I was in the project of trying to be other than what I am, be more than what I am, always trying to be okay when I’m not okay.  And then reading Isaiah 43 where God says to the exiled people/parts of Israel, “I will bring your children from the East and gather them from the West,  I will say to the North, give them up, and to the South, Do not hold back”   I had tears in my eyes. It was God speaking to my healing journey of not shaming myself but giving hospitality and compassion to the difficult, exiled parts of me.

And we have story after story in the gospels of surprising heroes and healing coming from places we would least want them to be from.  Reminds me of Psalm 118 and Jesus in the gospels and in I Peter 2 referring to the “stone that the builders rejected, that stone has become the chief cornerstone”.    Over and over, God keeps finding value in what we reject and throw away and judge as a problem.  It’s God’s way.  And hearing this story over and over helps to keep my heart soft and open and loved.  And my heart needs to stay soft and open and it needs to be loved.

We are OPEN TO NEW VOICES– We strive to speak and listen across differences in and beyond our congregation. We value cross-cultural experiences and global perspective. We welcome and embrace diversity of sexual orientation at all levels of congregational participation. We recognize challenges of building a racially and economically diverse faith community and strive for reconciliation.Reflection —Crescentia Volz 

I’ve been asked today to reflect on CMCL’s Core Value of New Voices. Some of you might know me and my family, I know many don’t. Let me start by sharing our journey to CMCL.

After moving back to Lancaster several years ago from Iowa, we decided that to be better allies we needed to leave the increasingly conservative church we had been attending and find one that is open and affirming. We tried several, and found CMCL in early 2020. While we have been here for a year and a half, we have only been to 3 or 4 services in the building, and really haven’t gotten to know many people individually, yet.
But that’s only a small part of why I’m sharing today.

You see, earlier this year, I had what you might call an “Identity Crisis.” A gender identity crisis. Now, this would have been a much more difficult thing to experience if we didn’t have the faith community here that I knew would be supportive. In fact, and in no small part because of the support I know I have in my life, I don’t even really consider it a “crisis” so much as a “revelation.”

Gender identity has come to the forefront of a lot of discussions recently. Trans rights are an important topic in many political arenas, from the national level down to local school boards. Trans men and trans women are in the spotlight in politics and Hollywood, Our culture is finally hearing the voices that have been silenced for centuries; voices that in many historical societies would have been celebrated. This could be a golden age for understanding gender and sexuality.

To me, and I’m sure to many of you, gender and sexuality have been presented as a binary: one of two things. Boy or girl; straight or gay; either-or; pink or blue. Even among allies, who support the declared identities of everyone, the “somewhere in-between” has only begun to be widely perceived in sexuality, and still in a sort of binary: “both” or “neither.” In our human nature to catagorize, we have looked at the world in simple sections and definitions. But the universe is not so easily contained within convenient boxes. Everything about our natural experience exists in spectrums. And not just linear spectrums, but spectrums that spread in all directions!

I’m non-binary. My gender is not exclusively male nor female. It’s both… maybe? You see, what gender is, is really hard to pin down and define, even for the scientists who study it. So, think of what it means to be a man and to be a woman. Now: strip away the physical. Focus on the psychological aspects, the personality traits, the drives. That’s probably the closest anyone can really come to defining gender. For me, a lot of things on both those sides describe me. Who I am is beyond the binary; outside the boxes of blue and pink. I strive to be a gentleman, protecting the weak, valuing physical strength in myself. I love to move gracefully and twirl ribbons, cook, and sew. None of those things are my gender. But they all, are – maybe – part of it?

If this has made you look more closely at your own sense of gender, that’s great!  Like faith, politics, relationships, and so much more, you can’t know where you truly stand until you’ve been challenged and tested. I encourage all of you to look more into gender identity on your own, both for your own personal understanding of yourself, and for understanding of others around you. Also, I’m open if anyone would like to talk more about gender with me later.

Thank you for valuing New Voices.

We are OPEN TO NEW DREAMS– We encourage all in our midst to grow and use their gifts, regardless of age, gender or length of time in the congregation.Blessing of the Backpacks— Kirsten Crosby-Blose, C&YE Committee We are RESPONSIVE TO HUMAN NEED– We want our lives to be more than solely for ourselves. We serve and celebrate our neighborhoods, especially our urban Lancaster context.Offering Prayer—

One way we are responsive to human need is joining the work of God within this community and beyond – through our financial resources, through our relationships, and through the moments and days of our everyday lives. Let’s pray:

God,
Make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Spirit,
grant that we may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born
to eternal life.

Amen  (Text: Saint Francis of Assisi; VT #991)

Offertory— We are People of God’s Peace VT #797  

We strive to RESPOND WITH JUSTICE, PEACEMAKING AND COMPASSION– We take seriously the church’s call to address issues of social, economic and ecological justice and to challenge oppressive systems in our culture. We proclaim the building of shalom peace and right relationships as the heart of the biblical message.

Reflection —Marty Kelley
We take seriously the church’s call to address issues of social, economic and ecological justice and to challenge oppressive systems in our culture. We proclaim the building of shalom peace and right relationships as the heart of the biblical message.

For the last five years I have been chair of the Peace & Justice Committee. It has been an honor because CMCL does respond with justice, peacemaking and compassion to whatever issue/concern is presented. Here is a list of many activities of CMCL justice, peacemaking and compassion over the past five years.

You have honored your commitment to share funds with other worship groups’ building projects through:
*SEND Grant Awards
*Agency Grant Awards – awarding money every year to service agencies you are actively involved with
* Medical Forgiveness Awards – joined 19 other local churches in repaying and forgiving medical debt for Lancaster County residents
* Soles for Souls – annually supporting St. John’s Episcopal Church in gathering used/new shoes to share with folks across the world
* Planted tree for Climate Concern and became an Interfaith Partner for the Chesapeake – under the leadership of Climate Concern representative, Marcella Hostetler
* Provided funds and toiletries and other supplies for Lancaster County ReEntry Center
* Actively supporting Mural Project
* Provided food items for the Lancaster County Food Hub
* Shared summer produce
* Provided winter coats for Fulton Elementary students
* Support MOOS project financially and with labor
* Provide breakfast for Lancaster residents on a monthly basis
* Continue to support three refugee families
* Actively supporting Bridge of Hope family
* Actively support dismantling racism work, including book study attended by over 100 congregants
* Interest in Braver Angels

CMCL does respond with justice, peacemaking and compassion within the work you are committed to as individuals and relationships you have as well as actively connecting to whatever projects offered through the leadership of CMCL. Many of you have brought these opportunities to the Peace & Justice Committee. The new co-chairs of the committee are Frank Carano and Beth Crosby. They welcome your ideas/suggestions as we journey together in the year ahead.We are BEING DRAWN INTO A NEW CREATION– We believe that transformation of ourselves and our world is ultimately the work of God’s spirit. Poem—Bone, by Mary Oliver fromWhy I Wake Early

Understand, I am always trying to figure out
what the soul is,
and where hidden,
and what shape
and so, last week,
when I found on the beach
the ear bone
of a pilot whale that may have died
hundreds of years ago, I thought
maybe I was close
to discovering something
for the ear bone

is the portion that lasts longest
in any of us, man or whale; shaped
like a squat spoon
with a pink scoop where
once, in the lively swimmer’s head,
it joined its two sisters
in the house of hearing,
it was only
two inches long
and thought: the soul
might be like this
so hard, so necessary

yet almost nothing.
Beside me
the gray sea
was opening and shutting its wave-doors,
unfolding over and over
its time-ridiculing roar;
I looked but I couldn’t see anything
through its dark-knit glare;
yet don’t we all know, the golden sand
is there at the bottom,
though our eyes have never seen it,
nor can our hands ever catch it

lest we would sift it down
into fractions, and facts
certainties

and what the soul is, also
I believe I will never quite know.
Though I play at the edges of knowing,
truly I know
our part is not knowing,
but looking, and touching, and loving,
which is the way I walked on,
softly,
through the pale-pink morning light.

Ritual—

We gather together before God; and today we have reflected on our ten core values.

This annual celebration is about acknowledging and celebrating all who make up this community of faith and life at CMCL – which includes all of you! We also acknowledge and celebrate the community itself, and the miracle that – together – we come alive as a body of Christ in this place and time.

Your presence changes the water level here, you know. You are a gift to this community that reaches beyond us, too. If you would like to discern or talk more about your place here at CMCL – perhaps to become involved in a new way or to let us know how this community could know or love you in a different way – please know that we pastors and Pastoral Team are eager to hear from you. We will be having another new member Sunday in mid-November, so if you’re interested in joining CMCL formally, please let us know that, as well.

We are interconnected here. What we do with and for one another creates ripples that are powerful and sometimes beyond our imagining. A kind word or a thoughtful act, like a pebble dropped in water, sends ripples to one another and out into the world. 

You are now invited to come forward with your pebble, (there are more here, if you lost yours already, or somehow didn’t receive one). We are asking you to consider, both this morning and in the year ahead: what of yourself do you choose to bring to this community? and what do you need and ask of us?

What ripples of love and meaning do you long for in your life and faith? What ripples in the world do you long to participate in as part of this community? 

So come now. While Dean and Daryl and Jean sing, drop your pebble in the basin of water. Pause to watch the ripple. See yourself, gathered with the rest of this community, surrounded and held by the waters of life. 

Here are pebbles I’m dropping in for you who are participating by Zoom or email. You are known and loved by God and this community. 

You who are gathered here, come now and drop your pebbles in the water, too!  

Music— Here By the Water, by Jim Croegaert VT #629 

Prayer to Close Ritual—We are a covenant people,
called to God by God,
generation through generation.

We are a covenant people,
called to Jesus by Jesus,
losing our life to gain our life.

We are a covenant people,
called to church by the church,
weaving together the strong and the weak.
the stranger and the friend.

Renamed.
Reborn.
Renewed.

Let’s pray:
Loving God,
We gather ourselves in this community of believers.
We gather ourselves unto you.
Thanks be to you, O God!
Amen
#VT869Sharing TimePlease email your prayer requests or reflections this morning toleslie@communitymennonite.org. They will be sent out by email by Monday.

Sharing Time Prayer—

Let’s close this time with prayer:

Gracious God,
When there is nothing we can say,
we give you thanks
that your Spirit intercedes for us
with sighs too deep for words.

Loving God,
when there is nothing we can do,
we give you thanks
that you are working for good
in this world of struggle and pain.

Holy God,
when there is nothing else we know,
still we give you thanks –
for nothing in life or in death,
nothing in heaven or on earth,
nothing in this world or the world to come
will ever separate us from your great love;
through Jesus Christ.
Amen.
(VT#994)

Announcements—
Change in plans for worship next Sunday, Sept. 19– Due to the recent uptick in local Covid-19 cases, we are not able to meet in the sanctuary on Sept. 19 for in-person worship as we had hoped and planned. Instead, we will return to West Earl Community Park (189 S. State St, Leola) on Sunday, Sept. 19, at 10 a.m. It’s disappointing because staff and lay leaders and many of you have been hoping and planning to be back inside in the sanctuary next Sunday. But the higher local case rates just make it not safe to gather inside right now, and so we need to pivot again. Thanks so much for your patience as we keep figuring this out together. And stay tuned for more info! There are some fun creative ideas being kicked around for next week – and we’re glad we were able to reserve this park again. We will also try our best to make the service available via Zoom for those who want to participate that way.

Closing Hymn—Thuma Mina, (Send Me Lord), VT#834

Thuma mina, somandla.
Send me, Jesus, send me Lord.
Lead me, Jesus, lead me Lord.
Fill me, Jesus, fill me Lord.
Thuma mina, somandla.

Benediction—CMCL Vision Prayer

Through your grace, O God, form us into a community
called to follow Jesus,
known and loved by you,
nourished throughout our lives by worship,
relationships and the biblical story,
open to new voices and new dreams,
committed to one another
in times of celebration and difficulty,
responsive to human need
with justice and compassion.
May your Spirit draw us together into your new creation.


Song Leader: Marcy Hostetler
Worship Leader: Leslie Homer-Cattell
Blessing of the Backpacks: Kirsten Crosby-Blose
Prelude & Offering: Rhea Miller
Musicians: Rhea Miller & Anika Krebs, Dean Clemmer & Daryl Snider & Jean Sensenig
Dance:Zita Angelo

Tech hosts:Karen Davis and Dave Cattell (via phone)